May 18, 2023
Flights of fancy and soaring melodies
Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2023/24 Season will take audiences on a global tour of opera featuring a richly curated slate of musical events in six different languages, and debuts by some of the world's most riveting talents.
"Lyric will present a varied and compelling 2023/24 Season that keeps our main pillars front and center: presenting the best singers in the world, bringing exciting and thought-provoking large-scale productions to the stage, and offering fresh contemporary perspectives that point to the future of our beloved art form," says Anthony Freud, Lyric's General Director, President & CEO.
The company's 69th season opens on Saturday, September 23 with Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola, who leads his first Wagner opera at Lyric. Directed by Christopher Alden, the production stars Tomasz Konieczny in the title role, Lyric favorite Tamara Wilson as Senta, and Robert Watson in his Lyric debut as Erik.
The season continues with a pair of operas offering contrasting emotional approaches to experiencing Lyric's signature world-class vocalism. One of opera's most delightful comedies, Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment — back on the Lyric stage for the first time in 50 years — features the return of Lawrence Brownlee to Lyric as Tonio and the long-awaited Lyric debut of Lisette Oropesa as Marie. The iconic Laurent Pelly production is revived by Christian Räth and conducted by Speranza Scappucci, both in their Lyric debuts.
In repertory with the lighthearted Donizetti is one of opera's most intense dramas, Janáček's Jenůfa, starring two of the world's most sensational sopranos: Lise Davidsen in the title role for her Lyric debut and Nina Stemme in her return to Lyric as the Kostelnička, Jenufa's stepmother. The production is conducted by Jakub Hrůša, the celebrated music director designate of London's Royal Opera House and one of the world's foremost experts in the Czech repertoire, and is directed by Claus Guth, both in their Lyric debuts.
Winter brings another diverse pairing of operas to the Lyric stage. The witty and heartwarming comedy of Rossini's Cinderella features the Lyric debuts of Vasilisa Berzhanskaya as Angelina and Jack Swanson as Ramiro, alongside returning favorites Alessandro Corbelli as Don Magnifico and Joshua Hopkins as Dandini. Conductor Yi-Chen Lin makes her Lyric debut, and the classic production of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle is revived by Crystal Manich, also in her Lyric debut.
In repertory with Cinderella is Champion, the "opera in jazz" by composer Terence Blanchard (who composed last season's hit Fire Shut Up in My Bones) and librettist Michael Cristofer. Champion tells the true story of Emile Griffith, a professional boxer from the U.S. Virgin Islands who threw a fatal punch in the boxing ring in 1962 after being taunted for his sexuality by his rival. Eric Owens is the older Emile, Justin Austin is Young Emile, and Whitney Morrison, an alumna of Lyric's Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center artist-development program, co-stars as Emelda Griffith, Emile's mother. Music Director Enrique Mazzola conducts his first contemporary opera at Lyric, and James Robinson directs this new Lyric coproduction with the Metropolitan Opera, where it recently opened to rave reviews.
The season continues with Verdi's majestically scaled but intimate love story Aida, conducted by Music Director Enrique Mazzola. Michelle Bradley and Russell Thomas, the star-crossed lovers of last season's Tosca, reunite as Aida and Radamès, another of opera's famously doomed couples. Aida also heralds the return to Lyric of Jamie Barton as Amneris. The production, directed by Francesca Zambello, has designs by the contemporary visual artist RETNA, whose work uses calligraphy, hieroglyphics, and bold colors to evoke a mythic past with a contemporary edge. RETNA's mural work can be seen locally in Chicago on the south wall of 33 East Congress, part of the Wabash Arts Corridor. Aida also features the Lyric debut of renowned modern dance choreographer Jessica Lang.
Within his run of Aida performances, Music Director Enrique Mazzola also leads two special performances of Mozart's Requiem, a beloved masterpiece that puts the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra center stage. The soloists for these performances will be announced in the coming months.
To commemorate the 2023/24 Season, musical theater's biggest star will headline Lyric's Season Opening Gala: An Evening with Audra McDonald on Friday, October 6. Andy Einhorn conducts the Lyric Opera Orchestra in an evening celebrating McDonald's unique interpretive talents in a variety of song styles.
"I am excited to be conducting such a profoundly diverse repertoire at Lyric next season: Wagner, Verdi, Mozart, and the brilliant Terence Blanchard, whose opera Champion is part of Lyric's ongoing commitment to new works," says Mazzola. "Stay tuned for more details about the other new and recent operas Lyric will be commissioning and producing across future seasons. This is constant, essential work for the company and includes important pieces like Omar by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, The Listeners and Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, and the world premieres of the Lyric commissions of Safronia by avery r. young and H of H Playbook by Bryce Dessner and Anne Carson. Lyric is committed to remaining at the center of exploration and innovation in opera for many years to come."
Behind the scenes, Lyric's work continues year-round, as the new Ryan Opera Center Ensemble begins its work, the new season's sets arrive for extensive technical rehearsals, the costume artisans prepare all the wardrobe for the new season's singers, the Orchestra and Chorus review the new season's musical scores, and workshops are held for the new operas in development.
"We are keeping our carefully built pipelines strong — both in terms of the artists we continue to mentor in our recently expanded Ryan Opera Center, and the new operas by new creators we continue to commission, workshop, and produce," explains Freud. "We have a robust 2023/24 Season ahead, and artistic excellence will continue to be Lyric's guiding principle."
Lyric Opera of Chicago's 2023/24 Season is on sale now, with more than a dozen curated packages and "create your own" package options that allow you to customize every detail. Explore the season at lyricopera.org/subscribe.